By Kudakwashe Pembere
Zimbabwe’s radiotherapy experts have engaged the International Atomic Energy Agency to hit the ground running on coming up with national clinical radiotherapy guidelines as part of the National Strategy on Cancer.
Three IAEA experts from South Africa are in the country working with local radiotherapy experts to formulate standardized and internationally accepted guidelines on treating cancer patients using radiotherapy.
Health and Childcare ministry’s Permanent Secretary Brigadier General (Retired) Dr. Gerald Gwinji told journalists on the sidelines of the launch of National Radiotherapy Guidelines that these guidelines are meant to regularize the treatment of cancers using radiotherapy.
“This was a planned activity following onto the development of the National strategy of Cancer. We now need to develop guidelines for specific cancers as we treat them. This one focuses on the radiotherapy sectors themselves,” he said.
He added that government is hoping to increase the number of public radiotherapy centres from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Mpilo Hospital in the country.
“Given the necessary resources, human resources and necessary equipment, its prudent to have cancer care and even radiotherapy decentralized in many places as possible. But for us in our system,its now equipping the provincial hospitals with such equipment and before perhaps you consider going down to district level.
“Because currently as you know there are only two Harare Parirenyatwa that comes with a lot of challenges because patients who are coming from across the breadth and length of Zimbabwe. So yes it is in our plans and it is desirable but it must be in tandem with training the necessary human resources because its highly technical area and you need a whole set of skills from nurses, doctors, radiotherapy specialists, oncologists, medical physicists it’s a whole team we are building up.
“I must say from the last couple of years using our own national training institutions we have managed to build up a team to such an extent that we are probably adequately staffed at Parirenyatwa Hospital and now building up at Mpilo Hospital,” he said.
Speaking during the launch, Dr Ntokozo Ndlovu said they intend to develop three guidelines during the workshop.
“We will develop about maybe at least three guidelines to start us, to get us going. Not that we had none before but we are hoping that we are going to focus on more quality work, because we do have our quality assurance teams that have been trying to come up with guidelines but the process is not complete up to our satisfaction,” she said.
She added, “And in addition to these three visiting experts with us for three days, our local senior staff will be assisiting them. We have two team leaders, one from Mpilo and one from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. These are senior radiation oncology consultants who will then push this further to make sure that we actually meet the international standards of practice in our two centres which are so well equipped relatively.”